Balance of trade continues to rise

In the first four months of this year the surplus on the Dutch balance of trade was 7.7 billion euro, nearly 3.6 billion euro more than in the same period last year. The surplus is increasing, although the increase in value of exported goods is smaller this year (to April) than last year. Exports increased by 16% in the first four months of the year, imports by 11%.

Balance of trade (cumulative per year)

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The large trade surplus is mainly the result of trade with neighbouring countries. Trade with all countries in the EU, with the exception of Ireland, resulted in a positive balance for the Netherlands. Exports of natural gas, machines and electronic equipment, in particular, pushed up the trade surplus.

Way out in the lead is Germany, the Netherlands’ most important trading partner. In terms of value, more than a quarter of all Dutch exports end up on the German market. Trade with Germany generated a surplus of nearly 8 billion euro in the first four months of 2001, nearly a third more than in the same period last year.

While the trade in goods with EU countries resulted in a large trade surplus, trade with non-EU countries showed a deficit. The largest trade gap was with the United States. More than 10% of all imports into the Netherlands (again in terms of value) come from the States.

The trade gap with China is widening fastest. In recent years, the value of imports from China has risen strongly, while Dutch exports to this country have been limited.

Largest trade surpluses and deficits, January-April

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Ger Moritz